LA Tech SciTEC collaborates for professional development of STEM students

Direct service and support to students is a key element when focusing on development of the next generation of successful science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) leaders. Support for classroom educators that serve those students is also crucial.

Federal funding opportunities provided resources for support to teachers who are implementing a new science curriculum to help prepare Louisiana youth for future opportunities.

Louisiana Tech University, through the College of Education’s Science and Technology Education Center (SciTEC), is one of two universities in Louisiana approved to provide professional development opportunities for teachers associated with the new OpenSciEd science curriculum. The curriculum is being developed by leading science educators from around the country, including many from Louisiana.

“OpenSciEd is a partnership between the states and curriculum developers with the goal of bringing to market freely available high-quality science materials aligned to college and career ready standards,” said Dr. Jim Ryan, OpenSciEd Executive Director. “Our 10 state partners have shown incredible leadership in the design, structure, and field testing materials. It is the state’s continued leadership through implementation that will provide every child access to rich science content and the habits of mind that will allow them to thrive in their futures.”

The I-20 corridor is an area rich with educators already working toward improving STEM education in the state, according to Dr. Lindsey Keith-Vincent, SciTEC Director.

“We are very fortunate in this region to have the opportunity to co-construct and implement support programming and activities to enhance and enrich the already powerful efforts of some of the highest caliber educators in the state,” Keith-Vincent said.

“It is because of the caliber of our district partners who are progressive, creative, passionate, and focused on ensuring student achievement that the College of Education has opportunities to be involved in regional, state, and national efforts impacting students in the area of science,” College of Education Dean Dr. Don Schillinger said.

The federally funded projects began in summer 2018 and will extend through the academic year. The proposals funded were submitted by leadership in Monroe City Schools and Bossier Parish Schools.

“Louisiana Tech’s SciTEC has been a vital partner in training and supporting teachers in the new science standards and curriculum,” Monroe City Schools Director of Curriculum and Instruction Serena White said. “Teachers have embraced the new curriculum because of the training and support provided by SciTEC’s content experts this summer. Monroe City Schools values the on-going partnership with Louisiana Tech on a variety of projects that support teachers in providing high-quality instruction to all students.” 

The Louisiana Department of Education approved these programs to assist with the implementation of the new curricular materials and included support for educators in Bossier, Caddo, Lincoln, Monroe City, and Ouachita Parish schools. Approximately 100 middle school educators in north Louisiana have been served thus far.

“Science teachers need high quality initial and ongoing training to implement curriculum aligned to the standards adopted in Spring 2017,” said Jill Cowart, Louisiana Assistant Superintendent of Academic Content. “SciTEC is a critical partner in ensuring teachers across Louisiana have the support they need to provide the best possible instruction to students.”

Field test teachers and project staff met with representatives of the Louisiana Department of Education and OpenSciEd to discuss re-delivery of the newly developed content. Instructional leads for the Monroe City-led initiative include Marci Wallace and Garrah Leshe from Ouachita Parish, Cathi Cox-Boniol and Missy Wooley from Lincoln Parish, and Diane Madden and Chris Campbell from SciTEC. Henry Mejia, Emma Jordan, and Diane Madden are collaborating to serve teachers in Caddo and Bossier parishes.

It is anticipated that additional opportunities will be made available through SciTEC in the summer  for teachers and administrators interested in learning about the OpenSciEd materials and associated strategies for instruction. To learn more about how to engage in STEM education outreach efforts and professional development opportunities at Louisiana Tech University, email scitec@latech.edu.